Frances Black was made use the back door by embarrassed parents as a pregnant teen

“I knew Daddy was devastated, It brought huge shame on the family,” Frances tells presenter Brendan Courtney on RTÉ’s Keys To My Life tonight.

Frances Black

Frances Black with presenter Brendan Courtney

Eugene MastersonSunday World

Singer Frances Black has revealed how the family were so embarrassed at her being pregnant as an unmarried teenager that she was forced to use a back door to their home in case their neighbours saw her.

And the 62-year-old also opens how the loneliness of rearing two young kids after her relationship broke up led to her seeking help for alcoholism after her drinking at home on her own spiralled out of control.

The singer – who would later become a household name thanks to her hit ‘All The Lies That You Told Me’ – first became pregnant at the age of 19 in 1979.

She was the youngest of five children, reared by Kevin and Paddy Black in their tenement home on Charlemont Street in Dublin’s inner city.

“I knew Daddy was devastated, It brought huge shame on the family,” Frances tells presenter Brendan Courtney on RTÉ’s Keys To My Life tonight.

“He couldn’t bear to even look at his beautiful daughter and think ‘she is pregnant.’ He really, really struggled with it. And I carried a lot of shame around it.”

Frances Black with presenter Brendan Courtney

The soon-to-be teenage mum tried to earn enough money to raise her new baby by getting a job in a creche.

But her dad, who was a plasterer from Co. Antrim, and mum, a Dubliner who used sing in local dancehalls, told her when she was becoming noticeably pregnant that she had to use the back door in case her neighbours saw her and gossiped.

“I would be so tired and I wasn’t allowed walk in the front door of the house. I’d have to go around the back so the neigh­bours wouldn’t see me,” she recalls.

Unlike another pregnant woman of her age who went to a Magdalene laundry and returned without her child, Frances was determined to keep her baby, Eoghan.

However, her relationship fell apart and Frances left rearing two young kids, Eoghan and Aoife. A kindly friend called Nuala rented her one of her rooms, which Frances admits “saved my life”.

But when the children were asleep Frances would sit on the sofa and hit the bottle.

“It was loneliness I suppose and then it just escalated. Once I start­ed drinking I couldn’t stop until I passed out to numb out the loneli­ness- to numb out whatever that was going on,” she reflects.

“The insecurities, the low self-esteem, the not being good enough, everything. The children were young at the time but it must have been very difficult for them.”

She read in a newspaper at the time about a woman going through similar problems and rang up the group offering support.

“I will never forget going into the counsellor and the realisation about the impact that my drinking was having on the kids. I said ‘I will never touch a drink again.’ That was 1988 and I haven’t had a drink since,” she stresses.

During all this time France kept up her singing, having initially cut her teeth with her four siblings, including her famous sister Mary, who pops up on tonight’s show to pay her a surprise visit.

In later years, Frances became interested in politics and was eventually elected to Seanad Éireann, where she is now an Independent Senator.

  • The Keys To My Life with Frances Black, is on RTÉ ONE, tonight, at 8.30pm

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